13 for ’13: Otaku Ohana’s year in pictures

Happy three-days-in-but-still-relatively-newish year! It’s hard to believe that June will mark five years since this blog gained a home on starbulletin.com as an online complement to Cel Shaded. Five years, coincidentally, is also the amount of time it would probably take for me to catch up on all the anime that I’ve been meaning to review in this space if (a) every single anime producer, both in the U.S. and Japan, were to stop releasing anime at this very second, and (b) I watched anime 24/7/365. (And let’s not even think about the manga.)

I’m hoping that review situation improves this year. But before we move forward, let’s take a quick look back at some of the highlights from last year, captured by my trusty camera (and in some cases, my equally trusty smartphone). Some of these pictures have appeared in this space before. Others, I never got around to posting (curse you, real work getting in the way of fun work!). For remembering the year that was 2013, though, they’re fun jumping-off points.

Congratulation! A winner is you! (Jan. 12)

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The final edition of the Liliha Library Anime Art Contest culminated in an awards ceremony at the beginning of the year. Rachel Ruiz placed second in the grades 6-8 category with this piece, for which she won a lovely bag of prizes.

Meanwhile, at the back of the room where the awards ceremony was held, young adult librarian Linda Mediati set up a table with a pile of donated Shonen Jump issues, English and Japanese editions, free for the taking for anyone who wanted them.

Judging by how many Rachel carted off, you wouldn’t be too far off in saying she won twice that day.

The surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya (March 17)

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I’ve mentioned before in this space that I have an affinity for anything and everything related to the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise. So when Haruhi character designer Noizi Ito was announced as a guest for Kawaii Kon, I was ready to go to pretty much anything and everything at which she made an appearance. Hour-long live-drawing panel? Yes, please. Hour-long live-drawing panel where she draws Kawaii Kon mascots Ai-chan and Nami? Oh, yes, thank you very much. Hour-long live-drawing panel where she casually unveils the final cover for her newest Haruhi artbook for the first time anywhere? Oh, baby, yes.

And in case you’re wondering whether the book made it out to Japanese audiences: Yup.

Spartan assault on our hearts (March 17)

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This is the only shot in this collection that wasn’t taken by me, but by one of Kawaii Kon’s staff photographers, Zarli Win. (We’ll see more of him in the next picture.) From where I was standing during the Kawaii Kon Masquerade, my trusty-yet-lacking-in-low-light-situations camera couldn’t have gotten anything as good as this. Being there to soak up the mood was awesome, though: the announcement of the contestant, this little girl in her “Halo Kitty” outfit — a Halo Spartan suit embellished with Hello Kitty accessories — walking out on stage, the collective gasp in the audience giving way to squeals and applause and a barrage of flashbulbs going off around the room.

Wedded bliss (June 2)

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Tag-team partner in fandom Wilma Jandoc married longtime boyfriend Zarli Win in early June. It was a pretty big deal ’round these parts. Was it a ceremony that was full of Win? But of course.

Cait Sith, art guardian (June 18)

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As it has for the past few years, the Honolulu Museum of Art School’s second-floor gallery hosted MangaBento’s annual exhibit. The 2013 edition, “Tomo-E-Ame: Friends-Drawings-Candy,” featured anime-inspired art in a wide variety of media. Among the pieces was this doll of Cait Sith hand-sewn by Heidi Shimada that, when viewed at a certain angle, looked like it was gazing over the gallery.

A master immortalized (July 27)

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Cartoonist Dave Thorne — best known around these parts for his Sunday comic strip “Thorney’s Zoo” — may have died in 2012, but he left behind a body of work that remains beloved to this day. In July, several hundred people showed up for a celebration of life at Bay View Golf Park, with samples of his cartoons posted all over the clubhouse auditorium. One of the highlights was a “chalk talk,” with Alan Low narrating scenes from Dave’s life as Jon Murakami sketched on a giant pad of paper. The last drawing, done in advance: this. A fitting tribute to someone known as “the Yoda of Hawaii cartooning.”

Taku Taku dancing dancing (Aug. 25)

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Taku Taku Matsuri, spearheaded by Yuka C. Nagaoka, debuted in August with a summer festival at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu. Games were played, art was drawn, food and other collectibles were sold, cosplayers roamed the grounds and played a round of Cosplay Chess, and everyone had a good time.

True to her word in my interview with her, Yuka showed up in a bright red kimono. She even jumped on stage with some of the other cosplayers and danced to Psy’s “Gentleman.”

Crossing cosplay (Sept. 15)

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In September, Gallery Iolani on the Windward Community College campus hosted “Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii,” an exhibit tracing the history of manga and its influence on artists in the local community that was curated by Pen & Ink Works founder/Hachi Maru Hachi contributing artist Brady Evans. Brady also led a series of curator’s tours for four straight Sundays, where he’d talk about various exhibits … like these costumes of Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist and Teddie from Persona 4, part of the section talking about Kawaii Kon.

Oh yes, if you missed the exhibit, don’t worry: Brady’s already told me it’ll be returning in 2014. Details to come.

When “aloha” means goodbye (Sept. 17)

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Toys N Joys, known for years to a certain generation as the go-to place for anime merchandise, domestic and imported video games, closed its doors for the last time on Sept. 23 after a 30-year run in Kaimuki and a 25-year run at the Westridge Shopping Center in Aiea. This whiteboard, sitting in the same display window where toys, replica swords and Airsoft guns once sat in the Kaimuki store, served as a sounding board for some customers to pay their respects.

Angelic consultation (Oct. 2)

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The time between Oct. 1 and Nov. 3 was one of the busiest I’ve seen for the local fan community in quite some time. The month got off to a hot start with two events taking place on the same day: Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library, and Kawaii Kon’s Anime Day at Windward Mall. I thought I’d be the only one crazy dedicated enough to make the drive over the Koolaus and attend both events, but it turned out there was another trio: Guardian Angels Dana Aton and Susana Choy of Cosmic Koi, makers of black and white hand-detailed angels’ wings and plasma ear pieces like these, and their adorably adorable lolita-clad daughter, Bella. Here, Bella and Susana shared a moment together at Mini Con.

The Macross miracle (Nov. 2)

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Local anime convention Oni-Con Hawaii debuted this year, and while it had its share of problems, there were some fun times to be had as well. One of those fun times was at the “Filmmaking in Hawaii” panel, where Blood of the Samurai director Aaron Yamasato and Doko Ga TV host/“Japanmania — Sugoi!” blogger Pali Kaaihue talked about some of their projects.

But then came their Fabulous Swag Giveaway. Now, you have to realize that in the upcoming season of Doko Ga TV, Pali talked to some really cool people, including Masako Nozawa, the Japanese voice of Goku in Dragon Ball Z, and Yoko Kanno, composer of anime soundtracks that fill me with warm fuzzies like Cowboy Bebop, Kids on the Slope, Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex, Wolf’s Rain and some of the newer series in the Macross franchise. Accordingly, one of the items Pali gave away was something from Macross Frontier. The winner? Milton Streeter, former leader of the Japanese Animation Society of Hawaii and co-host of the “Anime Clubs in Hawaii” panel that took place immediately preceding this particular panel.

As you can see, he was a tad bit enthused.

The art of library talks (Nov. 6)

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I’m not sure how many times over the years that I’ve attended talks by nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi about the creative process that goes into her thrice-weekly online comic strip, but one thing’s remained constant: Those talks are always fascinating, and fledgling artists could learn quite a bit from them. These two girls certainly took advantage of the opportunity, practicing sketching on Audra’s tablet after an evening talk at Kapolei Library.

The Journey continues (Dec. 22)

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Journey of Heroes, the graphic novel recounting the story of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II, went into a second printing toward the end of the year, with the first public sale of those new books at the Honolulu Gift Fair in mid-December. That’s author Stacey Hayashi in the background … and behind the table in the foreground, helping her sell books and other merchandise chock full of chibi soldier goodness, was MidWeek cartoonist/Cacy and Kiara author Roy Chang.

And that was 2013 in a nutshell! 2014’s already getting off to a busy start with Comic Jam Hawaii returning to Pearlridge on Sunday (1-4 p.m.!) and the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s Ohana Festival on Jan. 19. Is another fun year loaded with plenty of pictures in store? You betcha.

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To put a bow on the event that I highlighted in my last post, the wedding of tag-team partner in fandom Wilma Jandoc and Zarli Win: It happened. Ohhhhhh, did it ever happen, in a simple yet elegant ceremony Sunday morning at the Honolulu Country Club. And IMG_2494 — the file name my trusty camera assigned to this picture and, as I’ve been telling pretty much anyone who’d listen to me over the past 24 hours or so, my absolute favorite of the whole bunch —  serves as testament to that.

This, dear readers, is true love.

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That picture, along with a bunch of other highlights, are included in this handy-dandy Flickr slideshow that I’ve embedded below. Click through to find commentary on each picture. (Or should I say, please read the commentary. I spent many hours Sunday afternoon and evening writing captions for those 34 photos. *sniffle*)

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984

As always, thank you for your continued readership of Otaku Ohana. Regular programming will resume shortly.

The greatest of these is love

This past week has been a week of endings, one with no shortage of topics for me to talk about in this space. Curiosity — which I can only describe as “iOS/Android virtual bubble wrap, except with cubes instead of bubbles to pop” — ended. From Up on Poppy Hill‘s run at the Kahala 8 theaters wrapped up on Thursday (although as I mentioned before, it’ll be back on DVD and Blu-ray in September, and it’ll come packing that Japanese-language soundtrack that’s frustratingly eluded me thus far). On Thursday night, JManga transitioned from being one of the largest legal venues to read manga online to being one of the largest legal venues to view manga covers and nothing else. And Barnes & Noble will be closing its Kahala store, leaving just its Ala Moana store, as well as a scattered handful of comic stores between Aiea and Kaimuki, as the only places left on the island to buy first-run manga.

I may return to one of those topics in due time. Truth be told, I’ve been struggling all week to hit my writing stride and form anything resembling a coherent post. Part of it is the usual time-constraint problem that’s been plaguing this blog since way back in forever. But it’s mostly because I’ve been thinking a lot about something else that’ll be ending on Sunday … and, more importantly, the big ol’ katamari ball o’ wonderful that will emerge as a result.

To properly discuss this, let’s cue up some appropriate music.

As you might note from the embedded title, the song above is “Theme of Love,” the version off the Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy album. Final Fantasy Wiki notes that “‘Theme of Love’ is a leitmotif from Final Fantasy IV for the relationship between Cecil Harvey and Rosa Joanna Farrell.”

Now, I’ve never played FF4. I have no idea whether Cecil and Rosa actually live happily ever after, or if some Aeri(s/th)-esque event happens and one of them ends up at the wrong end of a giant sword wielded by the Ultimate Evil Who Threatens the World They Hold Dear. Sacrilege for an anime/manga blogger, I know. (It is in my Big Horking Pile of Games to Play Eventually if I Ever Stop Getting Distracted by Bejeweled Blitz and Candy Crush Saga, but that’s beside the point.). But I do know enough about this song to know that (a) it’s a song from the Final Fantasy franchise, and (b) it has the word “love” in it. That’s more than enough for me to deem it appropriate as a tribute to my longtime tag-team partner in fandom — and quietly dedicated ffmusic.info CD chronicler for many years — Wilma Jandoc.

On Dec. 12, 2009, at an event that was disguised as a karaoke get-together among friends at GS Studios in Waikiki, Wilma got engaged to her longtime boyfriend, Zarli Win, a guy who, among other things, is known as a really good photographer around local cosplay circles. Longtime readers of Otaku Ohana may remember this post that I wrote shortly after the events of the evening. Here’s one of the only shots I’ve ever gotten of our happy couple since then, shortly after Wilma’s first and only modeling gig at the Japanese Street Fashion Show at HEXXP 2011. I think this is the first time I’ve ever publicly published this shot. (Like I’ve said many times before: WAY behind on posting things. WAAAAAAAAY behind.)

Wilma and Zarli

Three years, five months and 20 days later, we’re on the verge of reaching the pinnacle of that journey. On Sunday, before their closest family members, friends, coworkers and a certain dorky blogger who’ll probably end up chronicling a good chunk of what goes on somewhere, Wilma and Zarli are finally getting married.

Which means that it’s the end of an era of sorts: In her personal affairs, she’ll be taking Zarli’s last name in marriage and becoming Wilma Win. I’m sure she’s heard all the possible permutations of “epic Win,” “full of Win,” “Winning” and “for the Win” by now … most of them, probably, from her husband-to-be, to which she’s probably responded by playfully whacking him. Because that’s how she rolls. So yeah, you’ll probably want to get that out of your system pretty quickly and move on. Here at Otaku Ohana, though, she’ll always be tag-team partner in fandom Wilma Jandoc to us. (She’s already committed to keeping that name in print.)

In any case, it’s certainly going to take a bit of getting used to on my part. Then again, so much has changed in our respective worlds over the lifespan of this engagement, changes that I think have been reflected in the ongoing evolution of Otaku Ohana into the blog that you see today, that another change is really par for the course. Her role with Otaku Ohana has evolved over the years, as evidenced by the handful of posts she’s contributed during our time on the staradvertiserblogs.com server: more posts about video games and video game-related entities, less about anime and manga. And for good reason: With Gunslinger Girl wrapping up its manga run next month, I think the only two continuing series left for which she’s eagerly awaiting new installments are Case Closed and the Vampire Hunter D novels. (Well, okay, that and hoping beyond all hope that someone eventually resurrects Initial D and Musashi #9, but with JManga going pfft and U.S. publishers thumbing their noses at long series, those seem like impossible dreams at this stage.) Anime’s been pretty much limited to theatrical productions like From Up on Poppy Hill.

And yet … it would take a lot for me to rebrand this blog in my mind as anything but “Otaku Ohana by Wilma Jandoc and Jason S. Yadao,” her name always coming first, even though I’ve been the primary writer here for a while now. Because as I noted in that 2009 post, I owe my entire side career of writing about anime and manga and the local community of cartoonists and artists and fans to her and our friendship over the years, and I never want to stop paying tribute to that. Sure, our fandoms may change, and her name may be changing, but when it gets right down to it, she’s just Wilma, my dearest friend, a cool gal who loves her ramen and shoyu chicken and chocolate, and someone who’s just a few hours away from marrying the love of her life.

Again, congratulations, Wilma and Zarli. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go work on writing their card … and stock up on some packets of tissue.

Because I can pretty much guarantee you that I’ll be bawling like a baby on Sunday.

P.S. Looking for the Ota-Cool Incoming! calendar? It’s right here, the same edition I posted last week. (Just mentally shift the MangaBento meeting in your mind to June 9.) I did get word of some new events, but that’s happening later this month and deserves its own post, so there you go.